Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Blue Velvet Dana Girls Books

In 1954, the first eight Dana Girls books were issued in a format known as the "blue velvet" editions.  The name was chosen because the texture of the boards resembles blue velvet fabric.  The boards do not have fabric on it; rather, the appearance makes the texture look like fabric.


The boards look similar to the Grosset and Dunlap boards of the late 1940s, except that these books were printed in 1954.  Furthermore, the Dana Girls books of the late 1940s have solid green covers, not blue.  Even the Nancy Drew books from the late 1940s have blue covers that are a different texture than these books.

I now have the set of all eight dust jackets, although one dust jacket is matched with a tweed book.



The jackets are distinctive for the blue velvet books.  Each jacket has a code on the back panel.  The code appears in the lower right corner of an ad for Nancy Drew #1-31. These are the codes.

D.1.49
D.2.49
D.3.49
D.4.49
D.5.49
D.6.49
D.7.49
D.8.49

We don't know what the codes mean.  The volume number is present in each code, but what is the significance of the "D" and the "49"?

Here are pictures of the jackets.  The code is visible on the back panel of each jacket.









All of the jackets have the ad for Nancy Drew #1-31 on the back panel.  The front flaps all list Dana Girls to #16.  The back flaps have several different lists.

The blue velvet books come with two styles of endpapers.  Some of the books have the usual green endpapers that appear in the tweed books.


Some of the blue velvet books instead have endpapers that are grayish green.


It's strange that I have one blue velvet jacket paired with a regular tweed book.  On the other hand, it's not strange at all.  The jackets from two books were probably swapped back when the books were new.

Collectors have theorized about these books for years, but no one knows for certain why only #1-8 were issued in this format and why the jackets have special codes on the back that appear on no other Dana Girls books.

We have observed that the blue velvet books generally appear either in Canada or in the far northern United States near Canada.  Two of my books were originally owned by somebody who lived in Bangor, Maine.  My other books came from Wollaston, Massachusetts.

The main theory about these books is that they might have been Canadian editions, which would explain why they appear in Canada or near the Canadian border.

Another possibility is that these books were issued as some type of special promotion. They could have been offered through a certain retailer or as some type of book club. This is just speculation on my part.

Perhaps one day we will know exactly why this set of books was issued and where the books were sold.

2 comments:

Michael Nabholz said...

Thanks for the interesting article!

The "D 49" jackets with tweed boards may not be that strange.
I just found four copies of D.1.49 jackets with tweed boards for sale on the internet.

Also, one of these D.1.49 jackets lists to Nancy Drew #32 THE SCARLET SLIPPER MYSTERY (not #31).

I agree with the Lynn Hartter post on Facebook that the "D" may refer to "Dana Girls",
but I am skeptical that "49" means 1949, since the jackets are dated mid-50s.

Perhaps the "49" refers to a special 49 cent price promotion?
(I have never seen a "D 49" jacket that also has a price code on the front jacket flap.)

Jennifer White said...

You may be right. I had thought about the code being the price and originally discarded that idea, thinking the amount to be too low. However, 49 cents could be plausible for 1954, so that might very well be the explanation.